Staying Busy to Avoid Depression


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Page last updated: 19/09/2022

Staying Busy to Avoid Depression

In this article, we will be discussing the statement “Staying busy to avoid depression”, other types of depression, things to do when you have depression and other frequently asked questions related to the subject and depression.

Was there ever a time you gave a lot of yes to tons of activities and commitments that eventually took a toll on your state of mind? Perhaps it is the feeling of being overwhelmed or setting aside feelings and thoughts by doing endless tasks to avoid dealing with your emotions or certain situations? In short, staying busy to avoid depression?

With the many roles that an individual play, be it being a parent, student, a sibling, an employee, a citizen participating in the activities in their locale or whatever it may be, things may feel like going here and there that it leaves one overlooking the things that matter, such as family or mental health.  

A clinical psychologist, Andrea Bonior, Ph.D proposed to ponder and evaluate upon these following questions:

• Does not doing anything make you feel uneasy and anxious?

• Do you tend to fill your idle time with distractions such as saying yes to every appointment, activities, or perhaps simply but endlessly scrolling through your phone?

For others, keeping oneself busy is doing the things they prioritize and commit to, however, for others, it’s filling a void, stalling on a matter or decision or running away from what should be dealt with.

Others are focused on taking action on things that are essential to them while others constantly try to finish endless activities that in the first place, does not need much attention to focus on. An example for the former would be a college student A resting the night before to recharge for an exam for tomorrow, while college student B is going out to the bar with friends rather than to stay home alone and rest such as student A.

Many cope up with busyness and say yes to many activities even on those that are not necessary is a thing. Others are mindful of what they are saying yes to while others constantly give their yes just because or for some reason they are not fully or choose not to be aware of.

Others are terrified of being by themselves or may be running away from something such as feelings. As  Claudio Zanet, a licensed family and marriage therapist stated,  “They have integrated this into their defense structure as a tool to protect themselves from difficult feelings, and it has provided tremendous value to them in their lives.”

With the many opportunities and things that we do not want to miss, be it with our friends, families, or at work, it is also important to take a pause, be in the moment and deal with the realities we are facing, including giving time for ourselves.

Many of his clients expressed their concerns in dealing with their difficult situations due to the fear of thinking it will be difficult for them to pull themselves out of it.

Depression among adults

Among older adults, depression is prevalent than younger adults according to a research. However, this calls for a special attention as manifestation may not show the typical and signs and symptoms may lead to serious negative effects such as worsening burden of physical illness, impaired functioning and risk of suicide.

It is more likely that older adults also show somatic symptoms, cognitive changes and loss of interest than younger adults.

Genetic vulnerability, diathesis, age-associated neurobiological changes and stressful events associated with the person’s age or role are also considered factors leading to development of depression among individuals.

Staying Busy to Avoid Depression

Signs and symptoms of depression

Children, adolescents, adults and even old people can have depression. In short, anyone (but not all) at some point in their lives will experience depression. Its signs and symptoms however manifest differently across all ages.

Children may get irritable, demotivated to go to school, shows symptoms of separation anxiety or show stress related to school, relationship with parents or friends. For teenagers, they may engage drug use, push people away, become short-tempered and show signs and symptoms of eating disorders.

While the older adults may also tend to be preoccupied, also irritable and may suffer from physical illnesses such as heart diseases and diabetes that can also be the cause or will cause depression.  

The following are the signs and symptoms to consider to be diagnosed with depression. At least 5 of the following symptoms should be present before being diagnosed with depression during the 2-week period and at least either or both symptoms, depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure is present:

– most of the day in a depressed mood, nearly everyday as observed by one’s self and/or others. (note: children may show agitation)

– anhedonia or loss of interest in pleasurable activities

– drastic weight loss or weight gain

– unfocused or diminished thinking


– feelings of unworthiness

– psychomotor agitation

– having recurring thoughts of suicide or death

– lack of sleep or excessive sleep

Other types of depression

It is important to note that mood disorders or depression is not a black and white matter. Instead, it is in a spectrum, meaning instead of saying yes or no to a question pertaining to an occurrence of depression to a person, a response is more understood with classifying the disorder (and even other psychological disorders) as mild, moderate or severe.

The following are other types of depression with its distinction.

• Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) – Symptoms are as mentioned above.

• Persistent Depressive Disorder or Double Depression or Dysthymia – This disorder differs with MDD with time. For two years, symptoms are present for more days.

Bipolar I – Characterized by extreme mood swings and a person should experience at least one full mania.

• Bipolar II – Characterized by extreme mood swings and a person should experience at least one major depressive episode. Minimum duration is 4 days.

• Cyclothymic Disorder – similar to bipolar and should manifest within two years. However, an episode of mania, hypomanic and/or major depressive episode should have never been met.

• Postpartum Depression – A woman’s change in behavior, moods and thoughts may be affected by pregnancy due to the significant hormonal change.

• Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder – Some symptoms are also food cravings, binging, bouts of crying and/or extreme fatigue. This may exist a week before and after menstruation.

• Seasonal Affective Disorder – Usual symptoms of depression should be accompanied with a certain season such as winter. Episodes must occur at least within 2 years without non-seasonal major depressive episodes.

• Atypical Depression – A person consistently oversleeps and overeats instead of having insomnia or loss of appetite.

Things to do with depression

–  Journaling – Write down your thoughts and feelings. This can be a form of release and gives relief.

–  Find someone you can talk to about it – Being able to be vulnerable with someone you have trust and confidence will help you better cope with the overwhelming effects of what bothers you.

–  Channel through art – There are many brilliant people who are deemed deviant, such as artists. These people may also show signs and symptoms of depression, however, because of their ability to project their thoughts and emotions to artwork, people accept their eccentricity. However, note that the goal is to channel it to more productive and fulfilling activities.

–  Exercise – Instead of constantly splitting from one meaningless task to another, work out! This increases the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine responsible for mood, sleep cycle, digestive system regulation, feelings of pleasure, movement and motivation, areas which affect someone with depression.

–  Meditation – A research analyzed meditation has good results on clients suffering from clinical depression when used as an intervention during the course of therapy.

–  Lessen your screen time – You are neither going to find the end of the internet and seek true relief just scrolling through your phone. Research has shown that social media contributes to depression and self-esteem. Use of gadgets and being in social media can also be addicting.

Technology such as the internet is made to aid and facilitate us in being knowledgeable and connected with the significant people in our lives especially those who are away from us, to add meaning and enhance quality of life. However, this sometimes results in the contrary.

–  “Less is more” – Allow yourself to make room by saying “no” to those not necessary for you to give your attention to. Instead, focus on those that truly matter and give meaning and intention to your life, your dreams, your goals, your time and your loved ones.

If choosing is hard for you to do, try these steps:

o   Learn to master making decisions quickly.

o   Reduce your options – this way, it will be easy for you what to choose.

–  Declutter – Sell or donate things you have not used for a long time, or particularly things that are no longer adding value to you. By this, you make room for things that are essential to you and add meaning to your life such as time shared with loved ones or being on the outdoors, taking a break.

–  Take a hike – Or a swim! Engage in activities that bring you closer to nature, ground and just be in the moment and appreciate the creations around you.

–  Sleep – Good sleeping hygiene enhances the immune system, prevents gain weight, promotes better mood, refreshes memory and memory retention, increases productivity and performance.

–  Eat healthy – Getting the right amount of nutrients helps increase quality of life. Reduce intake processed food, fat and sugar and opt for omega-3s proteins, calcium and all other nutrients your body needs.

–  Avoid drugs and alcohol – Consumption or excess consumption of alcohol and drugs may increase chances of depression relapse.

–  Get a pet – Taking care of pets such as dogs or cats promotes an active and healthy life, reduces stress, anxiety and depression. They also provide good companionship for individuals.

–  Seek for services of a mental health professional – Either be a psychologist, psychiatrist or a social worker in your locale,  having someone who has the training and expertise in dealing with depression will help you cope well and find strategies and ways to be relieved of the effects of depression.

These are just a few of the many things an individual who has depression can do to reduce episodes of depression instead of being busy.

FAQs:Staying Busy to Avoid Depression

Is it good to stay busy?

It is good to stay busy when you are intentional about what you are being busy with, if it improves your quality of life and if it does not compromise your mental health.

Is it bad to always be busy?

No, it is not. However, if you feel burnt out or seem like your activities are taking a toll on your body and mental health, you can always take a pause, rest and restore.

What makes people depressed?

There are many factors as to what make people depressed. It could be isolation, stressful life events such as divorce, moving to a place, new job, just getting married, a traumatic experience or it could be genetically predisposed.

Will being busy keep me away from depression?

No, it will not. Our busyness might even cause us depression. Depending on one’s genetic vulnerability to have depression, stress, emotional intelligence and resilience or environmental factors. These will contribute to how far or near a person is from being clinically depressed. There is a fine line between being mindfully occupied and being busy because of avoidance of dealing with an emotion one has to deal with.


In this article, we discussed the statement “Staying busy to avoid depression”, other types of depression, things to do when you have depression and other frequently asked questions related to the subject and depression.



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